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#ClintonBodyCount and Jeffrey Epstein, explained

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Within hours — maybe even minutes — of news breaking that hedge fund manager and convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide in his jail cell, discussion immediately turned to one of Epstein’s most powerful former friends: former President Bill Clinton.

As of this writing, “Clintons” is the number two trending term on Twitter, with basically every top tweet promoting, rebutting, or otherwise discussing conspiracy theories that Bill and/or Hillary Clinton had Epstein murdered. The hashtag #ClintonBodyCount blew up as well, complete with a competing #TrumpBodyCount hashtag popping up in response. And (naturally) right-wing conspiracy theorists are arguing that the latter hashtag’s popularity is a sign of Twitter’s left-wing bias:

The conspiracy theories even spread within the Trump administration. Lynne Patton, regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in charge of New York and a former event planner for the Trump family with no prior experience in housing policy, posted a screenshot of a news story on Epstein’s death to Instagram with the caption “Hillary’d” and the hashtag #VinceFosterPartTwo.

And President Trump joined in as well, retweeting a conservative personality who captioned a video in which he pontificates at length about his theories with, “we know who did this” and the hashtags #ClintonBodyCount and #ClintonCrime family.

To understand what’s going on here, you don’t just need to know about Epstein’s former friendship with Clinton (or with President Trump). You just need to understand the role that allegations of murder by the Clintons have played in right-wing fever swamps since the 1990s, beginning with the suicide of Vince Foster and continuing through to the completely random 2016 murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich.

What is the “Clinton Body Count”?

According to a history and debunking first published by Snopes in 1998, the body count meme originated in 1993 with Indianapolis lawyer and militia movement activist Linda Thompson, who compiled a list of 34 people connected to the Clintons who had passed away and titled it, “The Clinton Body Count: Coincidence or the Kiss of Death?” William Dannemeyer, a notoriously homophobic then-retired Congressman from Orange County, California, picked up the list, trimmed it to 24, and sent it Congressional leadership in 1994 as he ran for the US Senate.

Thompson provided — by her own admission — “no direct evidence” that the Clintons were responsible for any of the deaths, and Snopes provides a comprehensive account of each death, most of which were easily explained heart attacks, plane crashes, or suicides.

The most notable name on the list is Vince Foster, the deputy White House counsel who died by suicide on July 20, 1993. Foster was a colleague of Hillary Clinton’s at the Rose Law firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, and came to Washington, DC as part of the crew of Arkansas loyalists who joined the Clinton administration. In the job, Foster helped conduct vetting of administration officials and said he felt like he had failed the president when Clinton’s first two picks for attorney general were forced to withdraw because of revelations that they hired undocumented immigrants.

Foster also became wrapped up in a scandal surrounding the firing of staff in the White House travel office and in legal disputes about access to records about Hillary Clinton’s health care task force, earning him a bevy of harsh Wall Street Journal editorials.

Overwhelmed by these circumstances, and clearly struggling from depression, Foster died by gun suicide. But almost immediately, conservatives jumped on the idea that Foster was murdered. Those fanning the flames included the Journal editorial board, National Review’s Richard Brookhiser, and then-Rep. Dan Burton, who tried to do some amateur ballistics research on the case by shooting a large fruit in his backyard. Reports differ as to whether Burton shot a watermelon, a pumpkin, or a cantaloupe.

Numerous investigations, as my colleague Matt Yglesias explains here, have found Foster died by suicide. But the eagerness of conservatives, both on the more conspiratorial right and in respectable places like the Journal editorial board (Brookhiser favorably reviewed a book casting doubt on the suicide investigation in the New York Times), to doubt those findings fed the idea of a “Clinton Body Count.” So in the future, when people connected to the Clintons died due to easily understandable causes (like former business partner Jim McDougal’s heart attack death in prison) their deaths became grounds for speculation.

The death of Seth Rich in 2016 was the next major event fueling Clinton Body Count conspiracies. Rich was a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer who was shot in what police believed to be an attempted robbery in DC. But almost as soon as he died, Clinton haters seized on his death and tried to argue Hillary and/or Bill were responsible. After these rumors began, Julian Assange of Wikileaks gave the conspiracy theorists a motive by hinting that Rich, not Russian hackers, provided WikiLeaks with the DNC’s emails. Wikileaks then offered a $20,000 reward for information about Rich’s death. The implication was that Rich’s killing was punishment for leaking damaging internal emails.

This conspiracy theory was always absurd; there is copious evidence of Russian hacking, Rich had no access to all of the DNC’s internal emails, and he certainly didn’t have access to all the other information Russia recovered, like Clinton campaign chief John Podesta’s emails. The Rich family would eventually sue Fox News unsuccessfully for its efforts to spread the conspiracy theory.

But for Clinton Body Count conspiracy theorists, the incoherence of the theory in the Rich case was never an impediment. The Rich theory soon became part of the broader QAnon conspiracy theory, which is too byzantine to explain in detail here but which my colleague Jane Coaston summarizes as arguing, “special counsel Robert Mueller and President Donald Trump are working together to expose thousands of cannibalistic pedophiles hidden in plain sight (including Hillary Clinton and actor Tom Hanks).” Obviously, the victims of Clinton’s cannibalistic pedophilia would be additions to the body count.

How this fits in with Epstein

The Foster, Rich, and QAnon allegations are clearly absurd. And, we should be very clear, there is no firm evidence at this juncture to suggest that Epstein was murdered, let alone murdered by people with ties to the Clinton.

Epstein did have very real ties to Bill Clinton. That does not, does not, does not mean that Clinton had anything to do with his death, any more than allegations that Donald Trump raped a 13-year-old girl while hanging out with Epstein mean that Trump had something to do with Epstein’s death.

My colleague Andrew Prokop summarized Clinton’s interactions with Epstein thusly:

According to the Daily Beast’s Emily Shugerman, Epstein visited the White House for a donor event during Bill Clinton’s presidency and met with a White House aide several times there. Shugerman also unearthed a 1995 letter from businesswoman Lynn Forester in which she said she enjoyed briefly meeting Clinton at a recent event and used her “fifteen seconds of access to discuss Jeffrey Epstein and currency stabilization.”

Soon after Bill Clinton concluded his presidency in 2001, the ties deepened. Clinton entered a new stage of his career, in which he’d travel the world, launch philanthropic initiatives, hang out with rich people and celebrities, and make money.

“What attracted Clinton to Epstein was quite simple: He had a plane,” Landon Thomas Jr. wrote in that 2002 New York magazine profile. Clinton’s aide Doug Band made the introduction, and that September, Epstein and Clinton were off on a tour of five African countries, alongside actors Kevin Spacey and Chris Tucker. Per Clinton’s team, the trip was about “democratization, empowering the poor, citizen service, and combating HIV/AIDS.” (It was that trip that first elevated Epstein to some media notoriety, as journalists began to dig into Clinton’s new friend.)

That wasn’t the only trip. According to Clinton spokesperson Angel Ureña, in a statement last week, there was one more to Africa, one to Europe, and one to Asia — but, he says, Clinton and Epstein haven’t spoken in “well over a decade.”

Virginia Giuffre has said in an affidavit that Clinton was also present on Little St. James Island, Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands. But so far, there has been no corroboration for this claim, and Ureña says Clinton has never been there.

Neither Giuffre nor any other Epstein accuser has alleged that Clinton had sex with them. Clinton was, however, credibly accused of rape by Juanita Broaddrick in the 1970s.

What makes the conspiracy theories so frustrating, in part, is that they’re premised on real elements: credible accusations of sexual misconduct against Bill Clinton, Bill Clinton’s real ties to Jeffrey Epstein, and Epstein’s own well-documented sex crimes. It doesn’t take incredibly inventive conspiracy theorizing to move from that to allegations that Clinton was part of Epstein’s sex abuse and from there to wild accusations that Clinton had Epstein killed.

But we should be very clear that as of this writing there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest an outside person ordered Epstein’s death, and certainly no evidence whatsoever that Bill Clinton was that person.

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11 Exercises to Fix Rounded Shoulders and Sculpt Beautiful Posture

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Modern life takes its toll on our posture when we spend hours sitting and neglect the position of our spine. Poor posture leads to an imbalance in our muscles which means that they can’t support the body properly. Luckily, this can be fixed by doing a set of effective exercises. Moreover, they can help you to reduce back pain, stop headaches, increase energy, and improve circulation and digestion.

Bright Side is ready to help our readers achieve a beautiful and healthy body, and found 11 simple exercises that can be done at home by anyone. At the end we included a small tip, as a bonus for those who enjoy massage.

1. Upper trapezius stretch

It’s better to start from your shoulders first to relax your upper muscles. An upper trapezius stretch is just perfect for this.

Initial position: For this exercise, you can stand or sit on your yoga mat, whatever you like. Keep your head straight.

What to do:

  • Slowly move your right ear toward your right shoulder. When you do this, it’s normal that your left shoulder might lift as well. If it does, bring your head back to the initial position and try to relax your left shoulder.
  • Put your right hand over your head and place it on your left cheekbone. Don’t push your head down with it, it should just lie there. This will stretch your upper trapezius muscles very gently.
  • Calmly breathe and sit in this position for 30 seconds.
  • Slowly remove your hand, come back to the initial position and repeat the same on the other side.

2. Superman

The Superman exercise engages your upper and lower back. It helps you fight lower back pain and prevents a curved spine.

Initial position: Lie face down on your stomach, on your yoga mat.

What to do:

  • Extend your arms and legs. Keep your neck neutral.
  • Keep your torso stationary and lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling. Try forming a “U” shape with your body.
  • Hold the position for 5 seconds, lower your arms and legs, and go back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10 times.

3. Bridge

The bridge works out glutes and strengthens the lower back, which is important for good posture.

Initial position: Lie on your yoga mat, bend your knees, and place your feet hip-width apart. Place your arms by your sides.

What to do:

  • Engage your buttocks and raise them up, creating a straight line with your body. Your shoulders should be on the floor.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds and slowly lower your body back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 15-20 times. Give yourself a rest for 30 seconds after every 5 reps.

4. Reverse shoulder stretch

This is an effective exercise to stretch your back and shoulder muscles and remove tension and pain in them.

Initial position: Stand on a yoga mat, with your feet wider than your shoulders, place your straightened hands behind you, and lock your palms together.

What to do:

  • Bring your shoulder blades together and start putting your arms up. Try to feel the tension in your spine and shoulder muscles.
  • For more spine stretch bend forward and bring your locked hands up. Hold this position for 10-15 seconds.
  • Slowly return back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 20 times.

5. Foam roller exercise for upper back

A foam roller will help you to relieve pain in your back muscles, fix rounded shoulders, and improve your overall posture.

Initial position: Get a yoga mat and lie on it with your hips apart and your feet on the floor. Place your foam roller right under your upper middle back, in your shoulder blade area.

What to do:

  • Bring your hands behind your head, this will support it. Bring your hips into a bridge pose, and hold your balance, supporting your body with your legs.
  • Inhale, push your body from your heels, and roll on your spine. Stop when the roller reaches the top of your shoulder blades.
  • Exhale and roll back until the roller reaches the bottom if your rib cage.
  • Repeat this for 30-45 seconds.

6. Cat-cow exercise

The cat-cow exercise is perfect for stretching your back, lower spine, and core muscles.

Initial position: Stand on all fours on the yoga mat, place your hands right under your shoulders, and knees and feet hip-width apart. Keep your toes pointing toward your body. Your spine should be natural and straight, no bending or arching.

What to do:

  • Cat position: exhale and engage your abdominal muscles. Arch your spine up toward the ceiling, bringing your head to your chest, aligned with your spine. Hold this for 10 seconds.
  • Cow position: slowly start bringing your stomach toward the floor and try to feel the tension in your lower back. Bring your shoulder blades together. Hold this for 10 seconds and go back to the initial position.
  • Repeat 15 times.

7. Kneeling hip-flexor stretch

The kneeling hip flexor stretch will help to remove tension from your pelvic and lower back muscles.

Initial position: Kneel on a yoga mat, bring your right leg in front of you, and bend it at a 90 degree angle. Your foot is flat on the ground. Support yourself by standing on your left knee that is also bent at 90 degrees.

What to do:

  • Slowly start bringing your right knee forward and brace your core. Engage your glutes and keep bringing your hips forward.
  • Your left knee is already bent at more than 90 degrees. Keep your spine straight, don’t bend it forward or backward.
  • Hold this position for 10 seconds to feel the stretch in the muscles then slowly return to the initial position.
  • Repeat 10 times for both sides.

8. Bird dog exercise

Bird dog helps to remove back pain, strengthens the core, and promotes proper posture.

Initial position: Stand on all fours on the yoga mat, your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Your spine should be straight and neutral.

What to do:

  • Raise your right hand and your left leg at the same time, bringing them parallel to the floor.
  • As you do this, lengthen your neck and bring your chin to your chest. Look down at the floor and remain like this for 10 seconds.
  • Return to the starting position and then repeat the same exercise with your left hand and right leg.
  • Repeat 10-15 times.

9. Forearm plank

Plank is not only effective at burning fat, but it also helps to strengthen the spine muscles, it prevents back pain, and it helps to improve your posture.

Initial position: Place your forearms on the yoga mat and align your elbows below your shoulders. Your arms should be parallel to your body at about shoulder-width distance.

What to do:

  • You can clasp your hands together for more comfort. Correct your neck and spine by looking at one spot on the floor somewhere about 30 centimeters in front of your hands.
  • Pay attention, so that your head is in line with your back.
  • Hold this position for 20 seconds.

10. T-Spine windmill stretch

The t-spine windmill stretch can help you fight pain and tension in your lower back and trunk. Moreover, it works out your shoulder muscles.

Initial position: Lie on your side on a yoga mat and bend your knees and hips at 90 degrees. Extend and stack your arms together on your right side.

What to do:

  • Raise your left arm up and then place it out to the left, opening your body up. Right now, your shoulder blades should be on the floor and your legs should remain in the same position.
  • Hold it for a couple of seconds and return to your initial position.
  • Do 30 repetitions on each side.

11. Tight shoulder massage

A simple tennis ball can help you to remove pain in your shoulders in different areas and relax them. All you need here is a tennis ball and a wall.

Initial position: Stand next to the wall and face it. Place a tennis ball on the wall and lean on it. Your chest should push the ball inside your shoulder.

What to do:

  • Start making a circular movement around this muscle and try to find a trigger point.
  • Hold a ball on this point until you feel that the tension and pain are gone.
  • Keep doing this until you relax all of your trigger points.
  • Repeat on the other shoulder.

Bonus: Thai massage is amazing for your back and shoulders.

Thai massage is an ancient form of massage that uses stretching and gentle pressure on the body to relieve muscle and joint pain, and balance your body. This massage helps to make muscles more flexible and removes chronic stiffness. For better results in achieving a healthy back and good posture, you can try this type of massage, focusing on your spine muscles.

Exercises can be effective, but it’s also important to pay attention to your posture throughout the day and strive to keep your spine straight. Do you have good posture? Maybe, you have a couple of exercises that help you relieve back and shoulder pain? Let’s share in the comments!

Illustrated by Alena Tsarkova and Marat Nugumanov for BrightSide.me

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8 Top Technology Trends To Watch In China

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This is a preview of 2019 Technology Trends Report in China from Business Insider Intelligence and EqualOcean. Chinese high tech firms have been leading the way in innovation for many technologies, such as 5G. These technologies are either currently undergoing or about to undergo major phases of change.

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Why Iran is attacking oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz

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The Strait of Hormuz is a narrow waterway that lies between Iran and Oman. Dozens of tankers carry oil through the 21-mile-wide passage each day. This flow of oil represents 20 percent of the world’s supply.

Most of the tankers traveling through the Strait of Hormuz are bound for Asia. But an attack on any tanker there, regardless of its destination, can affect the price of oil everywhere. That’s because oil is a globally traded product — a drop in supply from the Persian Gulf can drive up prices from other sources around the world. After two tankers were attacked in June, the price of Brent Crude — oil sourced from the North Sea — jumped by nearly $2 per barrel.


The price of Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped in response to the attack of two oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz.

Vox/Danush Parvaneh

The attacks in June weren’t the only incidents in Hormuz in recent months. Several other oil tankers have been seized, attacked, and harassed. These tankers — and this narrow water passage — have become a center of conflict between the US and Iran. It’s a conflict with the potential to escalate in one of the world’s most important oil chokepoints, sending the global economy into a tailspin.

You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube. And if you’re interested in supporting our video journalism, you can become a member of the Vox Video Lab on YouTube.

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